A few years ago I had a conversation that dramatically changed the way I viewed my marriage. I realized my marriage and our love life wasn’t as good as it could be. Although my wife and I always had a good marriage, we realized we were living beneath our privileges. We realized our sex life could be better if we sought out the good information available and worked at improving our marriage. Our search led us to make many positive changes in our marriage; although it wasn’t always easy or convenient. I’d like to share with you the four ways we learned how to strengthen our marriage through sexual fulfillment and how it made a difference for us.
Adopt A Positive & Healthy View About Sex & Sexuality
Do you have a healthy view about sex or more specifically, your sexuality? And what is “healthy” sexuality?
You don’t need to look far to find plenty of examples of unhealthy sex. So much of what you see and hear might remind you of Las Vegas billboards (or worse!). Unhealthy sex is selfish, exaggerated, objectified, superficial, crass, raunchy, degrading, and even violent. The modern media tends to treat sex too lightly as well. Unhealthy sexy is void and empty of substance. It’s like filling your belly with junk food — it may satisfy the appetite for now but will not nourish you.
The opposite extreme can also be just as harmful. Images of prude Puritans or the Victorian era come to mind: attitudes that avoid the topic of sexuality altogether. Or consider some that treat the topic so seriously or too sacred to discuss it honestly. And there are those that treat sex as something gross or to tolerate at best.
Those that take an unhealthy approach towards sex by avoiding it suppress their own sexual development. They may think that anything sexual is wrong or evil, and even grow to resent this aspect of themselves and/or their spouse. Along with one’s intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and physical self, it’s impossible to be a whole & fully integrated person if a person neglects this other core dimension of themselves. We would be missing out on a beautiful part of being human if we neglect to cultivate this part of ourselves!
Healthy sexuality strikes a balance between these two extremes. A person with a healthy view towards sex see themselves and others as sexual beings capable of giving and receiving connection & pleasure. They respect and reverence their sexuality as God-given and learn how to use their God-given sexuality wisely.
Wise use of our sexuality can lead to strengthening and uplifting one’s self and marriage. It can feel great (I mean, really great) and be a lot of fun too! For an excellent comparison of the characteristics of healthy vs unhealthy sexuality, I recommend Laura M. Brotherson’s excellent article: Raising The Bar.
Those that have a healthy view of sex in their own marriage are comfortable talking about it with their spouse. Yes, talking about it, as scary as that may be at first. Well, at least in my experience, beginning to discuss our sexual differences with each other felt uncomfortable and yet exhilarating at the same time.
It’s healthy to communicate openly and honestly with your lover about your likes and dislikes. Talk about what turns you on and turns you off; your fantasies and desires. If you don’t talk about sex, you can’t improve your connection together. And when you do get comfortable communicating with your spouse about it, you have a healthy foundation for making your sex life better year after year.
Foster A Positive Emotional Climate
What’s the overall weather forecast of your relationship today? Cold and chilly? Warm and sunny? Couples that get along well have better sex lives compared to those that don’t.
Romance and fondness are the next most effective things a couple can cultivate to turn up the heat in the bedroom. This is because we experience sex in the context of the relationship. It’s for this reason that sex is often called the barometer of the marriage in general.
How do you foster a positive emotional climate? One fun way is to keep dating each other regularly.
Something magical happened to our relationship when my wife and I decided to go out regularly, just the two of us. Setting aside time for fun, conversation, and reconnecting after a busy week did wonders for our relationship. The break from Mommy & Daddy mode made it easier to transition into Lover mode later too. Some couples may find they no longer need professional marriage counseling simply because they regularly spending fun time together. These couples rediscovered what they like about their spouse and why they married the other in the first place.
You can still make time for fun on a regular basis even if getting out of the house is difficult in your stage of life. You can find hundreds of ideas online here. Get creative to find ways to spend time doing things you both enjoy without going far or spending a lot of money.
Top Two Skills To Make Marriage Work
The top two skills for making a marriage work are talking openly with each other and nurturing fondness & admiration for your spouse, according to research by Dr. John Gottman — arguably the country’s foremost marriage researcher.
Things that help foster a positive emotional bond include:
paying attention to your spouse when they speak (stop scrolling Instagram)
being warm and affectionate (with no strings attached)
expressing your love and appreciation for each other regularly (in public & private)
do nice things for each other (back rubs!)
Some husbands (and wives) dismiss the value of first connecting emotionally in order to enjoy a more satisfying sex life. Why are they missing out? Perhaps it’s because building and fostering a positive emotional climate in the marriage takes effort and personal responsibility. A lack of willingness to woo and romance could also be because there weren’t positive models of it in the homes they came from. Wives can help the guy realize it’s worth the effort to woo by rewarding him for his efforts.
Whatever the reason, once a husband and wife “get along” before they “get it on,” sex is more enjoyable because it’s built on a strong foundation.
Make Sex a Priority
Are you too busy to get busy? Couples building a great sex life make sex a priority. They put each other on their “to do” list and make sure they’re “on top” of making it happen.
Like weeds growing in the garden, the default state is to let other things take up the space that sex could occupy in your marriage. I realize it’s hard to get in the mood when others (children) have pulled on you all day. Tired or stressed individuals sometimes find that sex is the last thing on their mind. Before long you and your spouse may experience fights around frequency (by the way, pretty much every couple has this argument from time to time, and that’s healthy and normal).
One way to make sex a priority is to schedule it. That may not sound sexy to think about scheduling sex, but it works for many couples that have tried it. You would schedule an important event at your kids’ school, wouldn’t you? Or a doctor’s appointment? If those things are important, how about scheduling a special wholesome recreational activity in bed with your spouse?
Three Benefits of Scheduling Intimacy
First, it sends a message to yourself and your spouse that your marriage is important.
Secondly, it helps you mentally shift into sexy mode when the time comes.
Third, knowing sex is scheduled for another time frees your mind to focus on current pressing needs without the nagging feeling that you’re omitting something important.
Putting lovemaking on the calendar isn’t for everyone, and it’s not the only way to make sex a priority in your marriage. Some couples set aside a certain time in the month for a “His Night” and a “Her Night”. Others have successfully made sex a priority by committing to doing it for a certain number of days in a row. Those that tend to be goal-oriented find setting a goal and tracking it together to be a sexy and effective way of making sex number one in their marriage.
Discover How To Make It Mutually Fulfilling [and Fun!]
If you get a lot of pleasure and enjoyment out of something worthwhile, wouldn’t you want to do it more often? Wouldn’t you want to get better at it?
Some couples don’t enjoy sex is because they haven’t put in the right effort. Couples can learn and figure out how to make sex feel great for one or both partners through communicating. On the other hand, couples that make sex fun and feel really good tend to connect sexually more often and report higher overall marital satisfaction.
Unfortunately, sex isn’t equally fulfilling for men and women in most marriages. There’s an orgasm rate gap between the two genders. Of course, there’s a lot more to an enjoyable sexual encounter than just orgasm, but that’s what the researchers were measuring in this study. Surveys of nearly 50,000 men and women in heterosexual relationships showed that: women reach orgasm regularly only 65% of the time compared to men 95% of the time. What is the gap in your marriage? Can more be done to close this gap?
Most husbands are motivated to make sex great for their wives too. Men interviewed for studies regarding what makes sex fulfilling for them often include foremost vivid descriptions of their wife’s pleasure and enjoyment. It’s true that for many husbands their wife’s pleasure and fulfillment is closely connected with their own pleasure and fulfillment.
How to Make Sex Great for Both Partners
Making sex feel great for both partners is a learned behavior, and the best person to teach you how to make sex great in your marriage is each other. This kind of sexy homework can be a lot of fun!
Here are a few facts about female sexuality that helped us adjust our thinking and discover ways to make our intimate time more mutually fulfilling:
- The clitoris is a fascinating & beautiful part of the body. It has one function only: to experience sexual pleasure. In contrast, the penis has four functions.
- The clitoris needs stimulation in order for a woman to reach orgasm.
- 69% of women don’t reach orgasm from penetrative sex alone (to be clear, this means penis-in-vagina sex). Women need some direct clitoral stimulation to climax.
- Slow down and take your time. Studies show that on average it takes a woman about 10 – 20 minutes of stimulation to reach orgasm. Compare that to a man (5 – 6 minutes on average) [study source]
The researchers in the study above that reported the 95% / 65% gap include the following facts from the 25,000 women they surveyed, which could give you some helpful ideas for your bedroom lab experiments:
“Compared to women who orgasmed less frequently, women who orgasmed more frequently were more likely to: receive more oral sex, have longer duration of last sex, be more satisfied with their relationship, ask for what they want in bed, praise their partner for something they did in bed, call/email to tease about doing something sexual, wear sexy lingerie, try new sexual positions, anal stimulation, act out fantasies, incorporate sexy talk, and express love during sex. Women were more likely to orgasm if their last sexual encounter included deep kissing, manual genital stimulation, and/or oral sex in addition to vaginal intercourse.”
Because sex is extremely personal and complicated, it’s vital to respect each other’s boundaries, beliefs, and comfort levels. It’s best if couples approach the subject selflessly, lovingly, delicately, respectfully, and openly in their marriage. If you experience pain, that’s not normal — call a doctor. If you have other things getting in the way of you feeling great during sex, it may be well worth the investment in finding a professional sex therapist.
I’ve come to know that investing in my marriage yields a very high rate of return on happiness. Things you put your time and effort into tend to improve because you treat it with care and attention.
Building a great marriage and sex life is worth it! A strong marriage and great sex life lead individuals to be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and to do good. The bonding power of healthy intimacy brings a couple closer together like nothing else so that the couple can endure and even thrive amidst the many hard things of life.
Couples that adopt a healthy view of their sexuality foster a positive emotional climate in their relationship, make it a priority and figure out how to make it feel great. These are the couples that are enjoying a great sex life and have strong marriages too.
Dan and Emily Purcell
About the Author:
Twitterpated and still on their honeymoon of 16 years, Dan and Emily are the founders of Get Your Marriage On! They became interested in helping couples strengthen their connection when their own marriage went from good to great a few years ago. They say, “for us, it had to do with better understanding each other, a willingness to show up, put aside fears, and invest fully into each other’s lives. Among other things we learned how to effectively communicate and gain a better understanding of the role of healthy sexuality in our marriage.”
Together Dan and Emily have six wonderful children that remind them how sweet and wonderful life can be. By day, Dan is a software developer and Emily is a full-time super mom. By night they create apps and put on events designed to strengthen marriages. Their apps and events have blessed over 100,000 couples around the world. Learn more about their marriage apps and events at getyourmarriageon.com.